Sanctuary development 'not factor' in closure

The development of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary is not a factor in the planned closure of the Brook Valley Holiday Park, Nelson mayor Rachel Reese said today.

Residents and others have suggested that the closure is linked to the bird sanctuary development. The council has allocated more than $1 million toward the pest-proof fence and has allowed the relocation of the sanctuary trust's conservation centre into the camp's grounds.

But trust chairman Dave Butler said today the first the trust knew of the camp closure plan was when it was publicised yesterday.

"We were as surprised as anybody. We'd had no prior discussion about that."

He said the board would discuss the issue on Monday, and at this stage had no opinion on the closure.

The relocation of the conservation centre was still being worked through but would "very definitely [be] done in a way so as not to disrupt the viability of the camp", Dr Butler said.

Two classrooms in Brook St would move into the camp, and a workshop was also being developed.

The trust could see "potential synergies" with a camp beside the sanctuary and would come up with a clearer view at its meeting next week, he said.

Ms Reese said she wanted to give residents "the absolute reassurance that there is no other agenda being played out here".

"There's been no discussion with the Brook Sanctuary about this closure."

It was a proposal and "absolutely not" a foregone conclusion, Ms Reese said. Residents and all ratepayers would have every opportunity to be heard.

"It's appropriate for us to review all our assets and the degree of ratepayer support that they require, and look at those issues. I don't think the public of Nelson would have had any idea that it was costing general ratepayers in the order of $175,000 a year to keep the Brook Valley Holiday Park open."

She said the council needed to look at if it was a holiday park or a residential development on a recreation reserve.

Residents were advised on Friday that the council is likely to shut the camp at the head of Nelson's Brook Valley by the end of the year, forcing them to move homes that a number of them have lived in for many years.

The council has told them that the camp is losing $175,000 a year and that they will be able to relocate to the Maitai camp, an option those spoken to by the Nelson Mail said was not suitable.

Yesterday's coverage of the closure plan drew 31 comments on the Nelson Mail website overnight. Among those who posted was past mayor Aldo Miccio, who said that the council subsidised its libraries with $2 million a year, was considering subsidising the Modellers' Pond at Tahunanui with $93,000 a year and "the Maitai golf club gets far more than that again".

Mr Miccio said it was the council's business to subsidise public and private services.

"It chooses what it wants to subsidise . . . Trafalgar Park, Nelson tennis club, even Nelmac and Tahunanui Motor Camp, the Economic Development Agency and the topical Nelson[-Tasman] Tourism, the list is endless."

He said the council's closure plan was "most likely" because of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary's expansion plans, and/or a future gondola project.

"The camp and the residents are simply possibly in the way now, so the easy option is to close it."

Speaking to the Mail this morning, Mr Miccio said the Brook camp had been discussed during his time as mayor.

No plan had been developed but the council knew the development of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary and a possible gondola would put pressure on space.

"Those permanent residents probably don't fit what the plan is."

He was a supporter of the sanctuary, and felt that the council faced a tough decision.

"At the end of the day it's the council that's got to have all the information - it's going to have to be an on-balance decision and it will be difficult to have a win-win situation."

Yesterday's article said that Nelmac vehicles had carried the people who handed out letters to the camp's residents on Friday. Ms Reese said council vehicles were used, with no Nelmac involvement.

The Nelson Mail